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Social services of general interest in European regions: a look at "territorial cohesion" in the economic crisis context

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Abstract

Services of general interest (SGI) and specifically social services of general interest (SSGI) are a cornerstone of the European model of  society. Nevertheless, the political and economic changes in most member states have evolved towards less public intervention,  whereby regional disparities in service provision have increased, putting territorial cohesion at stake. This study identifies the main  drivers of regional disparities in the provision of SSGI in different years (2006, 2012, 2016 and 2019). A Principal Component Analysis  PCA) followed by a cluster analysis for each year resulted in a common list of indicators (demographic, socioeconomic and provision of services), verifying their associations with European regions. Four main drivers were found, the most important ones being  socioeconomic conditions and health/social care and Urbanization and higher education, showing that SSGI as economic services are susceptible to economic competition and agglomeration forces. Furthermore, the analysis indicates that regions located in more  robust economies or in countries with stronger welfare regimes tend to have better scores on the provision factors. We conclude that SSGI, although it is dwarfed and commanded by socioeconomic aspects, greatly promotes territorial cohesion, even during harsh economic crisis. 

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Authors

Pedro Franco - Centre of Geographical Studies, Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, University of Lisbon https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2753-0143

Eduarda Marques da Costa - Centre of Geographical Studies and Associated Laboratory TERRA, Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, University of Lisbon https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5070-3562

How to Cite
Franco, P., & Marques da Costa, E. (2023). Social services of general interest in European regions: a look at "territorial cohesion" in the economic crisis context. European Journal of Spatial Development, 20(1), 1–29. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7684275